20th Century Fox has picked up the rights to author Don Winslow's latest novel The Cartel for a movie adaptation which has Ridley Scott attached to direct, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Deadline also reports that the studio is eyeing Leonardo DiCaprio to star. The studio also picked up the rights to Don Winslow's 2006 novel The Power of the Dog, which chronicles the start of a war between a DEA agent and a drug dealer that continues in The Cartel .
The Cartel has been receiving rave reviews since it was published in June, detailing the massive war waged between DEA agent Art Keller and Mexican drug cartel kingpin Adan Barrera. In the first novel, The Power of the Dog, Keller had befriended the up and coming drug dealer Barrera, before a feud between them begins, leading to Barrera brutally murdering Keller's partner. The Cartel takes place between the years 2004 and 2014, when the bloody feud re-ignites after Barrera escapes from prison, determined to build his empire from scratch.
If Leonardo DiCaprio does sign on, he will play Art Keller, although it isn't clear if the actor has started negotiations yet. Shane Salerno, Don Winslow's creative partner who wrote the Savages based on the author's book, has signed on to write The Cartel script. 20th Century Fox reportedly shelled out nearly $6 million for the book rights to The Cartel and The Power of the Dog, along with the screenwriting fees.
While there were several other studios and producers courting this project, Don Winslow and Shane Salerno sided with 20th Century Fox, because of Ridley Scott's commitment to direct. Leonardo DiCaprio was also one of the players eyeing to acquire the book, through his Appian Way production company, and if he signs on to star, it's possible that he could come aboard as a producer as well. The actor-producer is also working with both Don Winslow and Shane Salerno on an adaptation of the author's novel Satori, which he may also star in.
Ridley Scott is currently putting the finishing touches on his sci-fi movie The Martian, which hits theaters this November. The director also has a number of projects in development, such as Prometheus 2, so it isn't known if The Cartel will be up next for him. Leonardo DiCaprio will next be seen in The Revenant, opening in theaters on Christmas Day.